Caracas, Venezuela – Venezuela’s electoral commission released on Tuesday documents that would clear the way for opposition leaders to officially begin a constitutional process aimed at removing President Nicolás Maduro from office. The commission, controlled by the Socialist government, initially refused to hand over the papers and Tuesday’s decision raised hopes of politicians who control the National Assembly.
Mr. Maduro was elected in 2013 by strong followers of former President Hugo Chávez, who asked them “from his heart” to vote for him as his health was declining. However, Maduro’s popularity has quickly plummeted as Venezuela’s economic crisis has reached alarming rates. Soaring crime and chronic shortages of medicines and basic goods such as eggs and milk have also led former “Chavistas” to abandon their faith in the Socialist model.
The International Monetary Fund predicts a triple-digit inflation and prices of oil, the base of the country’s economy and the main financial source of the governments’ agenda, have reached a record low.
“Today, we are struggling for the future of the country and we will not rest,” expressed Tomás Guanipa, congressman and leader of the opposition party Primero Justicia. “We will defeat all of the obstacles the government and electoral commission put in our way.”
The process begins by collecting the signatures of one percent of eligible voters in order to hold a recall vote. Then, the recall would be held if 20 percent of voters agree. Finally, the opposition will have to win the recall with more than 50 percent of votes so they can surpass the votes Maduro obtained in his initial election.
The government’s opponents expect to recall Maduro this year. Should their goal be met, the electoral commission would call elections for a new president.
Luis Pedro España, a sociologist and political scientist based in Venezuela, told the Times that the government was most likely to try to delay the process until 2017. Maduro could still be removed from office, but his vice president would take control the remainder of the term.
España affirmed Maduro and his cabinet know they have no chance of winning another election, as polls and the crisis conditions show Venezuelans will no longer support them.
Venezuela faces daily power cuts as electricity runs low
As an attempt to save electricity, Venezuela also announced on Tuesday that government workers would have Wednesday and Thursday holidays. Maduro had already declared Friday a no-work day, which leaves a 2-day work week in a country that faces crisis in all fields. The government also declared children would not attend school on Friday.
President Maduro said that the measure announced on Tuesday would last for two weeks.
Source: New York Times